Pesticides And Parkinsons Disease: The Toxic Effects Of Pesticides On The Brain
A study by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, finds Parkinsons Disease risk increases with elevated levels of organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides in blood. Among patients with PD, specific organochlorine compounds have greater associations with cognitive impairments, including depression and brain function. Research finds exposure to chemical toxicants, like pesticides, can cause neurotoxic effects or exacerbate preexisting chemical damage to the nervous system. Although the mechanism by which pesticides induce disease development remains unclear, researchers suggest changes in protein enzyme composition and cellular dysfunction from pesticide exposure interrupt normal brain function.
Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides are higher among patients with PD compared to healthy patients. Of the organochlorines, -HCH and propanil concentrations have the greatest association with PD risk through increasing reactive oxygen species levels and decreasing mitochondrial membrane function in SH-SY5Y cells. However, only propanil induced accumulation of -synuclein, a predominant protein in the brain tissue of PD patients. Lastly, using the Hamilton Depression Scale and Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores, researchers discover PD patients have higher depression scores and lower cognitive function.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.
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What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder in which nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra dont produce enough of the neurotransmitter dopamine, according to the Parkinsons Foundation. Not having enough dopamine is what causes the movement symptoms that distinguish Parkinsons disease, including tremors, limb rigidity, and gait problems.
Although it is a movement disorder, Parkinsons disease can bring about non-movement symptoms that include cognitive impairment, depression, sleep disorders, and constipation, according to the Parkinsons Foundation.
Parkinsons disease is a progressive disorder. This means the disease gets worse over time. Although Parkinsons disease is incurable, its symptoms are treatable. Data from some clinical research trials suggest that there is hope to slow Parkinsons disease progression through early intervention, although theres not enough data to conclusively demonstrate that this is possible, according to The American Journal of Managed Care.
Have You Been Exposed To Paraquat
If you have developed Parkinsons disease, or symptoms, due to paraquat exposure, you likely have grounds to file suit against the paraquat manufacturers who harmed you including:
- Syngenta Group
- Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, LLC
- Drexel Chemical Company
- HELM Agro US, Inc.
- And more.
According to the National Law Review, the first of these lawsuits was filed in October 2017 in Illinois. Our legal team at Wilson Law, P.A. is proud to announce that we are accepting cases in North Carolina and will file paraquat lawsuits for residents suffering catastrophic injury due to toxic exposure. There are several different herbicides throughout the nation that contain paraquat, the most common of which is Syngentas Gramoxone SL 2.0 Herbicide. Para-SHOT, Helmquat, and Devour are other common weed killers in which paraquat is an active ingredient.
To learn more, please visit our paraquat litigation page here.
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Specific Pesticides And Their Link To Pd
The evidence that pesticide use is associated with an increased risk in PD, begs the question are there specific pesticides that are most concerning? When data is collected on this topic in large populations, often the participants in the study are unaware of which specific pesticide exposures they have had. This makes it difficult to determine which pesticides to avoid.
Some studies however were able to investigate the risks of specific chemicals. A recent review summarized the current state of knowledge on this topic. The chemical with the most data linking it to an increased PD risk is paraquat, with exposure associated with a 2-3 fold increased PD risk over the general population.
One particularly comprehensive study investigated exposure to 31 pesticides and their association with PD risk. From that data emerged paraquat and rotenone as the two most concerning pesticides.
- Paraquats mechanism of action is the production of reactive oxygen species, intracellular molecules that cause oxidative stress and damage cells.
- Rotenones mechanism of action is disruption of the mitochondria, the component of the cell that creates energy for cell survival.
Interestingly, both mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are common themes in our general understanding of what causes death of nerve cells in PD.
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Household Chemicals Linked To Parkinsons
The crippling disease which has struck down screen star Michael J Fox
and boxing legend Muhammad Ali could be caused by exposure to chemicals at
home or work.
Scientists fear household paint, varnishes and garden sprays might be
responsible for Parkinsons disease.
They are at the centre of a study to investigate the links
between these common items and the distressing illness.
Most prevalent in the elderly, Parkinsons is a disease of the brain which
It affects about two in every 1,000 of the population and the chances of
becoming a victim of it increase after the age of 50. It is characterised by
the shuffling gait and blank expression which are nowadays associated with
The Aberdeen based researchers hope that at the end of the three-year project
they will have found ways of preventing a significant number of cases.
Professor Anthony Seaton of Aberdeen University said yesterday that if
everyday items are found to be causing cases of Parkinsons then the public
has a right to be warned.
Some people do a lot of DIY. If they are risk factors then clearly people
their research will look at links between genetic and environmental factors.
He said: We are looking at chemicals that are known to affect the brain and
that would include solvents such as paints, varnishes and glues, and
organo-phosphates such as insecticides.
These are things that can be found in the home or in industry.
these chemicals are as a risk factor.
not likely to be a problem.
Environmental Toxins And Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is said to be because of the loss of dopamine-releasing nerve cells in a small, central part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The substantia nigra produces dopamine, which helps coordinate movement in our body.
But when nigral nerve cells are impaired, less dopamine is released and motor function is affected. And thats when hallmark Parkinsons symptoms including tremors, difficulty balancing, and slowed movement start to set in.
Several studies have suggested that environmental toxicants including pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants are linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinsons disease.
Heres how these chemicals are said to play a role in the development of the neurological disorder:
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Synthetic Heroin And Parkinsonism
In 1983, several cases prompted researchers to think about whether toxicants could cause Parkinsons disease. A 39-year-old man in California presented to an emergency room with visual hallucinations, jerking of limbs, generalized slowing, and difficulty walking. He had no prior medical history, neurologic history, or family history of neurologic disease. At around the same time, a woman and two men from the same area developed young-onset subacute parkinsonism. James Tetrud, MD, and J. William Langston, MD, the neurologists who examined these patients, learned that they were all IV narcotic addicts. Between two and six weeks before presentation, the patients had injected a synthetic heroin that they had obtained from the same supplier. The toxicant in the synthetic heroin that had induced the parkinsonism was identified as 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridine . All of these patients responded to levodopa.
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Rural Living And An Increased Risk Of Pd
In the 1980s, studies were conducted that showed that early-age exposure to a rural environment as well as exposure to well water were associated with development of PD later in life. Subsequently, multiple additional studies looked at these questions. The studies are mixed in their conclusions, but overall the evidence supports associations between increased PD risk with each of the following:
- farming as an occupation,
- well water drinking, and
- living in a rural area.
Of course, all these categories are inter-related, since farmers live on farms in rural areas, are exposed to farm animals, are more likely than urban dwellers to drink well water and use pesticides. The studies were attempting to tease out why rural environments increased the risk of PD. Do only those who actually farm have an increased risk or is it enough to live on a farm? Is pesticide exposure the reason for the increased risk? Well water exposure? Exposure to farm animals? Or is it another element of rural life?
In the end, epidemiologic data supports the assertion that each of these elements increases the risk of PD. Of note, all of the increased risks in these studies are small on the order of 1.5-2 times the risk of the general population.
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How Do We Know That Paraquat Can Increase The Risk Of Developing Parkinsons Disease
Extensive scientific research over the last twenty years has demonstrated a link between Parkinsons disease and people who were exposed to Paraquat. In fact, Paraquat use has long been restricted to certified applicators due to concerns based on this research.
In the last ten years, research on Parkinsons disease has intensified, with two particularly convincing studies involving humans: one by the National Institutes of Health , and one Italian meta-analysis. Both studies provide persuasive evidence for an increased risk of Parkinsons Disease in farmers and in people who live near where Paraquat is used.
Freya Kamel, a scientist within an epidemiology branch of the NIH, has said that research on the link between paraquat and Parkinsons disease is about as persuasive as these things can get.
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What Is Trichloroethylene Used In
Trichloroethylene is used in several industries. It is mostly used as a solvent to remove grease from metal such as auto parts, but it may also be an ingredient in:
- furniture cleaners
- computer part cleaners
TCE, however, does not only affect those people who come into contact with it, as it has been shown to persist in the environment for over a year.
Unsuspecting victims may not even realize that they have been exposed to the substance, as it can also contaminate groundwater and soil, and even well water that people drink.
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Does Exposure To Pesticides Herbicides Or Other Pollutants Increase The Risk Of Developing Parkinson Disease
A meta-analysis of 89 studies, including 6 prospective and 83 case-control studies, found that exposure to pesticides may increase the risk for PD by as much as 80%. Exposure to the weed killer paraquat or to the fungicides maneb or mancozeb is particularly toxic, increasing the risk for PD about 2-fold. Many of the agents studied are no longer used in the United States and Europe however, some are still found in developing parts of the world.
In case-control studies, PD was associated with exposure to any type of pesticide, herbicide, insecticide, and solvent, with risks ranging from 33% to 80%. Increased PD risk was also associated with proxy conditions of exposure to organic pollutants, such as farming, well-water drinking, and rural living. In addition, risk seemed to increase with length of exposure.
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Pesticide Residues For The Rest Of Us
As for those of us not handling pesticides on the job or at home, pesticide residues are found on a majority of commercially grown foods. In a review of the research by Cornell Universitys Dr. David Pimentel, 73% to 90% of conventional fruits and vegetables contain pesticide residues, with at least 5% of those pesticide levels above FDA tolerance amounts.
While the cost of organic foods might be a tad higher in the store, the price paid in the long run for pesticides in terms of liver disorders and nervous disorders such as Parkinsons as well as environmental damage to our bees, waterways and soils makes the real price for organic foods much more competitive to conventional, pesticide- and herbicide-laden foods.
Measures Of Pesticide Exposure
In order to move beyond a broad assessment of direct pesticide application, the recalled pesticide products were classified into specific functional types and chemical classes. The chemical or trade name of each pesticide product was input into the Pesticide Action Network pesticides database to obtain its primary function and the chemical class of the main active ingredient. This database has been used for classification in other pesticide studies . For each functional type and chemical class, individuals were classified as ever exposed to the relevant class or type, ever exposed to any other pesticide, and never exposed to any pesticide.
In the residential history section of the environmental risk factor questionnaire, individuals were asked to “list the cities, towns, or communities in which you have lived for the majority of each year from childhood to now.” For each location, individuals were then questioned on their years of residence, whether they lived on or next to a farm, whether they drank well-water, and if so, the years of drinking well-water. Individuals who reported drinking well-water at any residence prior to their reference age were classified as ever exposed to well-water consumption. Cumulative duration was then determined and categorized into tertiles of exposure and a referent level of never being exposed.
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Occupational Disease Injury Settlements & Verdicts
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- $750,000 Chemical Exposure Settlement for a worker in a chemical exposure case resulting in brain cancer.
- $4.3 Million Tetra-Ethyl Lead Settlement for a worker exposed to lead against DuPont.
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- $4.8 Million Asbestos Settlement for a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma from second-hand asbestos exposure.
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For an occupational disease Injury lawsuit to be successful, personal injury lawyers have to show that your injury resulted from the negligence of another party. In the case of a Personal Injury lawsuit victims and immediate family members have the right to file a personal injury claim.
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Effects Of Parkinsons Disease On The Body Include:
- Continue regular daily activities to help maintain mobility.
- Lead as normal a life as possible, not restricting activities that are still possible.
- Establish a regular exercise program consisting of stretching and weight bearing.
- Walking 30 minutes each day can be a realistic goal.
- Seek advice from a rehabilitation specialist as soon as possible for help determining an exercise level, overcoming problems with balance and safety, difficulties with speech, or for fatigue and stress management.
- Adaptive training and use of quad-canes or straight canes, and other mechanical aids help with balance problems.
- Try to avoid unnecessary stress in your life. Leading a healthy life, eating regularly, sleeping regularly, and exercising will help keep you fit both mentally and physically.
- All symptoms of Parkinsons disease get worse under stress.
- Ask the doctor about regulating treatments so that treatments are more effective during peak work conditions.
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